The Photographer of the Lost is set in a period in history that I love. I’ve read a lot of books set during WW1, but I had never read one about the photographers who were commissioned by widows, or family members to track down where a loved one had been killed, their grave, or the place where they had been when they wrote their last letter, and take a photograph to send to them.
The story is set during 1921 with flashbacks to 1917 and brought the characters and their suffering very much to life. It was a stark reminder that although the war had been over for three years, the families of those killed, maimed or missing, presumed lost never fully recovered. The attention to detail is incredibly interwoven through the story.
Edie is searching for answers to what happened to her husband, Francis. He is missing, presumed killed in 1917, but someone has sent her a photograph of him, although she doesn’t know who, or why. Francis was a photographer and took self-portraits. She is haunted by the thought that he could still be alive, and, if so, where is he and what has he been doing since 1917? She asks his brother Harry for help to track Francis down. Harry is an ex-soldier and fought alongside Francis and their other brother, Will. He is an artist, but since the war has made a living taking photographs and is the photographer in the story.
As he struggles with his own ghosts, Harry searches for the graves of those he’s been asked to commemorate, but does as Edie asks and tries to discover what happened to Francis. The undercurrent between the two is beautifully depicted through the book and as you read you will discover more about Harry, Francis and Edie’s lives and hopes, and also that there is lot more to people than they might wish you to believe.
I was thoroughly absorbed by this haunting, poignant story of love, grief and the loss of so many futures.
The Photographer of the Lost is published on 31 October 2019.